The Digital Transformation of a B2B Giant

Agency: Dept

Digital transformation is a necessary step for many businesses but there is not just one way of accomplishing this. At one end of the spectrum, companies are increasingly selling products online, while others still operate in analogue. Dept now offers digital transformation as one of its services following the restructuring of DigiB, the start-up offshoot of chemical distribution manufacturer Brenntag.

Brenntag owns 500 warehouses worldwide which are used to store and distribute chemical products. Though the company is forward-thinking, and guarantees safe and sustainable operations, it still largely operates like a traditional B2B company – with many orders made via telephone and email. DigiB launched in Amsterdam in 2017 after Brenntag met with strategic consultant Roland Berger. The corporate start-up was founded to stand apart from its parent company and act as a platform for working on new design innovations, as well as allow Brenntag to be more efficient and prioritise their customers’ experience.

Digital transformation as an evolution, not a race

Finding the right platforms

As Dept, we came on board to facilitate Brenntag with the design and development of new platforms Brenntag Source and Brenntag Connect. Brenntag Source is an innovative tool that helps to boost the company’s internal efficiency by ensuring that data can be easily shared across the company’s offices in 72 countries. Each branch operates as a standalone business, so Brenntag Source allows them to retain a local presence within each market, and enables Brenntag to use its purchasing power more effectively to reduce spend. It’s a relatively simple innovation, but it illustrates perfectly the incredible potential digital transformation offers.

Brenntag Connect, on the other hand, is a customer-facing platform providing consumers with the option to order products digitally with access to individual documentation, historic purchasing data, and other self-service components. And since its launch six months ago, Brenntag Connect has received over 1,800 customer registrations and is due to launch in America and Asia in Q1 2020.

Collaborate with the right partner

Apart from facilitating Brenntag with two new platforms, Dept stepped in to digitise and centralise its analogue processes with its team. Our team possesses a range of skillsets which provide the flexibility to keep up. At Dept, we know that we can provide teams with bolstered creativity, technology, and data, which is why it was a no-brainer to help DigiB across all three of these axes. From brand development to digital products and digital marketing, there was no aspect of this process that we weren’t comfortable getting involved with.

Marketing activities in action

These digital marketing transformations have helped elevate Brenntag to the position of global market leader in chemical distribution – a sector that has remained largely untapped by the digital evolution.

The DigiB infrastructure is one of the most advanced architectures we have ever encountered. A lot of time was spent on continuous integration, which makes it possible for Brenntag to onboard new developers and roll out functions quickly to make the business more successful. Brenntag embraced a more considered process – an evolution instead of a revolution as it were – and opted for a launch-and-learn approach. This way, Brenntag can easily make adjustments based on feedback, and demonstrate the added value of digital applications more quickly.

Looking forward

DigiB is building the digital future of Brenntag. By setting up DigiB as an innovation hub outside of the parent company, Brenntag is able to optimise the complex digital processes inherent to an international B2B player and remain competitive. Dept helped the company transition from a traditional company to a digitally-minded one seamlessly.